Our Kind of Cruelty

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 May 2018

Member Reviews

I decided to read another book from my TBR pile and remembered that I selected this book because of the author’s acknowledgments page.  She notes, “The first draft of this book was written in a mad spurt of anger at the continued injustices perpetrated against women in our so-called civilized society”.  Though it was published in May of this year, the injustices continue to this day and I couldn’t wait to begin.

"When I lived with my mother there were monsters only I could see in the corner of my room, hidden by the cobwebs and filth that clung to our walls. I came to an agreement with those monsters. If I agreed never to look straight at them, they agreed not to eat me. It lessened the terror a bit."

Mike Hayes never felt true love until he met V.  His cruel upbringing from an alcoholic mother and her male visitors traumatized him more than he wanted to admit.  When he was placed with a foster family, he had already shown violent and unusual behavior in school.  His new foster parents, Elaine and Barry, did the best that they could in raising him to be responsible and making him feel wanted.  It wasn’t until he met Verity (V for short) in college that he understood real love for the first time.  Real obsessive love, to-die-for love, love that you crave…

"All I could be sure of was that it was going to be something big, something that undeniably and irrefutably proved my love for V forevermore."

The entire book is told from Mike’s perspective and from the beginning you know something is off.  He insists that V has not moved on and still loves him.  That she is playing a game called crave that they created as college kids.  He also hears people say things about him that he doesn’t remember happening that way.

"V would be lost without me, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself, she would be stranded and alone. It has always been my job to keep her safe."

The plot is very well written, the suspense is penetrating, and Mike’s obsession with V slowly grows more intense throughout the book.  This reader was impatient to find out what really happened and the ending is quite gripping, disturbing, and extremely sad. The only problem I had with the story was that it was too long and I believe it could have been condensed for just as much psychological impact.  Saying that, I strongly recommend this book for people who like psychological suspense.
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I am still not 100% sure how I feel about this book. When I read the synopsis, I was all in. I assumed this would be dark, creepy, stalkerish, along the lines of  You or something similar. But what I got felt a little disjointed. I think all the parts were there to make this a great read, yet it fell short for me. It wasn't quite creepy enough. It didn't leave me feeling disturbed ( which is what I was expecting and honestly thought I was getting). It left me feeling like I wanted more. I wanted more dark, creepy, and disturbed. I enjoy reading crazy and while I did finish the book, I did want a little more.
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I am sorry for not reviewing fully but I don’t have the time to read this anymore. I believe that it wouldn't benefit you as a publisher or your book if I only skimmed it and wrote a rushed review. Again, I am sorry for not fully reviewing!
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A chilling tale of deception and self-deception, and a strong entry into the canon of unreliable narrators.
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This book was very twisty and disturbing. This is a one-sided love story that delve into the complicated lines between truth and perception. It left me wondering just how far Mike would go to get Verity back. Great debut for Araminta Hall as a new voice in psychological thrillers.
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DNF at 20% - I found this one way too slow for me and didn’t find enough suspense to keep me wanting to read more
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Unfortunately, I was unable to get into this title. It just wasn't a good fit for me. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read this title. I will not be posting a review online, in order not to skew the ratings.
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Mike and Verity were meant to be. They are young, smart and have each other but when Mike gets the opportunity to work in the States, Verity encourages him to go for it even if it means they will be apart for some time.

When the couple reunites after a few months the cracks in their relationship can’t be mended and Verity breaks up with Mike. He knows he did a stupid and unforgivable thing but he will do whatever it takes to win her back.

Verity has stopped taking his calls and has even gone so far as to get engaged with another man but the more Mike thinks about, he knows that Verity has just changed the rules of their game, the Crave, to make him suffer and earn back her love.

That’s okay, Mike is willing to play.

The novel is told from Mike’s perspective so the reader sees all the obsessive and delusional behavior that Mike displays but will Verity be free or is she really playing just a more amped version of the Crave. At times I wish we could have had Verity’s perspective because I had some doubts about events but in the end I’m happy we only got Mike’s version. If you like psychological thrillers give this one a try.
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* A dark and twisted kind of story that moves quickly.  It's a middle of the road rating for me because it didn't hold my interest for long and simply I forgot most of it not long after I read it. It didn't create a buzz in my head and keep me thinking and I couldn't get lost in the characters. 

It's fairly well written even if some of it is a little repetitive, it almost needs that in spots as a representation of the character.
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This review will be short, because it’s difficult to talk about this book without ruining it. And this is a book that you appreciate more the less you know about it.

Mike and V dated for several years in and just after college. Mike eventually took a position in America, which caused them to be separated for a long stretch, during which they ended up breaking up. Now V has moved on, but Mike knows that she hasn’t really. It’s just part of their relationship, and he’s paying close attention, watching for their signs.

I understand why this book has gotten the buzz it has, but I’ve decided that this type of book just isn’t for me. Books like You by Caroline Kepnes are in this same style. I read You, I enjoyed it, but it was creepy enough for me to have so far avoided the Lifetime series based on it. Being in the head of a character like this is uncomfortable for me.

But that’s the point Hall was making, I think. We should be uncomfortable with characters like this. Yes, Penn Badgley and Zac Efron are lovely men, but that doesn’t mean we should confuse their characters, Joe and Ted Bundy, respectively, with the actors. A pretty face can hide a lot, and as a society, we’re much less uncomfortable with this type of thinking than we should be. Araminta Hall shines a light on just how hypocritical we are, and just how much of a double standard there is in our justice system, as if we didn’t know.

I think this book is important to read, and I’m glad that I did, but it made me very uncomfortable, so it’s not something I’d ever be able to re-read. I wasn’t able to just sink into it the way I like doing with books because I was so constantly aware of just how wrong everything around me felt while I was reading it.
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The MC is a delusional male with toxic masculinity. I don't have time or interest in that, sorrynotsorry. The whole story was tedious, repetitive and ultimately hollow. I failed to see how the author, per her author's note, actually did anything to support women with this story.
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*A big thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review. This has not influenced my opinion in any way.*

I feel extremely conflicted about this book. It took me months to read it, and I had to force myself to pick it up as I simply was not feeling engaged. There are some things I like about it, definitely, but a lot more that I didn't.

First of all, I didn't like the POV.

The main character, Mike Hayes, is also the narrator and the story is told in first person. Thus, we only get his perspective throughout the entire book. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that I hated his voice.

Don't get me wrong: I like the idea of his character and of only getting access to his thoughts and feelings, especially when they are so jumbled and troubled - which makes for a very flawed and intriguing perspective. The problem is I didn't buy any of it. It didn't feel like I was reading about a guy, for one. Everything from his feelings and tastes and overall behaviour made me feel like I was reading about a female character instead. More than that, this person didn't come off half as intelligent as everyone made him out to be, not to mention I find it very unrealistic that someone like him would have survived in the corporate world as long as he did, making it as far as he did, with as much money as he did.

This alone made it very hard for me to enjoy the novel from the first page. But it wasn't all.

The pace was incredibly slow and repetitive and just plain boring. It's unfortunate because this story could have been so much more dynamic and interesting if we hadn't been pestered by Mike's thoughts over and over again - which, I know, we must in order to feel connected to him somehow and end up understanding why he thought and did the things he did. However, being aware of his background and past did very little to make me feel sympathetic or closer to him in any way. Again, part of it has probably to do with the fact that I just couldn't see him as a real person and more like a caricature.

But even if I hadn't liked his character, I guess I could have at least enjoyed the action and how the story progressed. Not even that. I just didn't feel emotionally invested in any way, probably because:

I was extremely confused. Now, this is supposed to be a very subjective narrative and keep you guessing until the very end, which it effectively did. And this why it gets conflicting for me: I kept reading because I felt oddly intrigued by what was going to happen. Despite finding it boring and annoying and skimming through most of the second/third of the book, I wanted to know what was going to happen. And that's great, but still the only reason why I kept reading - to satisfy a curiosity.

Another thing that bothered me was that I apparently missed the entire message of the story. I didn't catch ANYTHING to do with feminism or sexism (which are AWESOME topics that I would have loved to have found in it, by the way) throughout the entire book, except for the very end. And even then, it felt more like an afterthought. I only realised it was an important part of the book when I read the author's afterword - you know, after READING the whole book. Which basically rendered it pointless.

I expected this to be a lot darker and more twisted than it was. It felt so... Lame. So incredibly disappointing in both severity and danger. There wasn't a moment where I feared for anyone's safety, not even at the end. Nothing remotely gasp-worthy happens, which is concerning seeing as I'm not the type of person to even read about anything too crazy. Quite the opposite!

I mean, the obsession, stalking, etc. is upsetting, for sure, but it was never pegged as insanely disturbing. Maybe because Mike never came off as threatening to me - just a bit pathetic and lost. He goes on and on about love and devotion, so much so that everything else either got glazed over or was missed amidst the noise. Again, I'm incredibly squimish and sensitive to this sort of stuff and none of what he did, said or thought brought any troubling reaction. I guess because, for the most part, everything felt unrealistic and distant, which is not something that should happen.

A lot of the stuff that Mike and V shared and did felt, quite frankly, ridiculous. I simply cannot imagine two adults, no matter how disturbed or delusional or whatever it was, behaving the way they did or making up a game like that (I find the name they gave to it especially cringy. I mean, Crave? Really?) The dialogue alone made me feel like I was reading one of those cheesy romance novels, not a thriller.

I think Our Kind of Cruelty had great potential but failed to fulfill it. It was confusing, missed its mark, went in circles for way too long (killing the suspense even before it began), had a failed POV and a difficult character to connect with, made no particular sense for the most part and despite being able to spark my interest midway through, it wasn't the sort of interest that kept me engaged but more like an itch I had to scratch in order to move on to more enjoyable things. It certainly wasn't able to make up for everything else.

To this day, I still have no idea what I read or who "the bad guy" was. I'm not sure if it was intentional on the author's part to keep it so open to interpretation or if I just missed the point completely (it's entirely plausible seeing how much of the book I skimmed through and how I had huge reading hiatus in between possibly vital parts) but the truth was I just didn't get it. I wish I'd enjoy it more, especially when someone like Gillian Flynn raves about it (though I haven't read anything by Flynn either, thus can only trust the hype) but I didn't.

I still plan on reaching out for the genre more and, if anything, this book did make me more curious and interested in finding a story that actually thrills me. Unfortunately, Our Kind of Cruelty just wasn't it.
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If half stars were an option, I would give this book 3.5 stars.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall is, as the blurb puts it, Mike's love story. Told in first person from Mike's point of view, readers are shown the depth of his love for a woman named Verity, an ex who no longer returns his affections. In my opinion, Hall does a phenomenal job showing just how out of touch Mike is with reality, both in his thoughts about and interactions with Verity, as well as his relationships with others in his life. In some ways, her writing even makes the reader sympathize with Mike to a degree, as it is made incredibly clear that he is the victim of his own fantasies.

That being said, I found myself consistently waiting for something to happen in this book. The story is told in three parts and, while I won't give away what happens, nothing truly exciting occurs until the end of the second part. From there, I expected the story to take off, but it went back to its usual pace pretty quickly.

Perhaps part of my issue there lies in the fact that, upon reading the blurb, I was just expecting a more intense stalking situation. Instead, readers are met with a character that, for all intents and purposes, are more delusional than dangerous. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just told a different story. In many ways, I ended up appreciating it because it shone a light on a more subtle form of stalking that often goes forgotten.

Overall, I think Hall handled the subject matter with grace and did a phenomenal job pointing out major issues in our society and legal system. I did thoroughly enjoy reading the book once I started to view it as more of a beach read than a thriller. However, with the lack of intense action that I was expecting, it just never quite got there for me. If you go into this one with the right expectations, I think this book will work a lot better for you and you'll find yourself loving it!
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This book was weird, to say the least. I finished it over a week ago and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it, hence, the three star rating. Mike, the protagonist, is a deeply disturbed individual, whose motivations are grounded in just enough logic and just enough reality, that you are never really sure just how disturbed he is. While not a strictly unlikeable narrator, I was never sure how I felt about him. I couldn't decide if I trusted him, felt sorry for him, or wanted him to burn in hell. 

Because of this, the feminist slant that really comes forward at the end of the novel was hard to mesh. The author writes in a note after the story that she wanted to emphasize the ways women's bodies have been policed and judged, especially in the past two years. While I see where that comes from, using Mike as the narrator makes that difficult to see, because we only get his focalization. While we can see that his actions are not okay, it's hard to see JUST how bad they are, because of his narration. Think of this as a more subtle version of Caroline Kepnes' novel, YOU. 

I'm glad I read it and I know i'll continue to think about this book in the months to come.
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So, this is a very simple, but very unsettling novel.

The author puts us square in the mind of a very disturbed, very obsessed man.

The book is highly suspenseful as you watch him spiraling out of control - and you simply know it can't end well.  It's dark, twisted (not twisty though) and you feel somewhat sullied just reading it.

What kept this from being a five star read for me, though, was the sheer simplicity of it.  With Mike, disturbed as he is, what you see is exactly what you get.  I kept hoping the author would add something to this - something that made this story more than just the workings of Mike's mind -  but it never really came.

Still, though, it was a very good book.  I read it at breakneck speed, simply dying to know how it would all end.
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Our Kind of Cruelty is a dark and twisted story! I can't wait to see what Araminta Hall writes next!
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What happens when a male unreliable narrator is the sole protagonist of a dark psychological thriller?

The answer is right within this riveting novel’s pages.

Sypnosis:

The book revolves mainly around the concept of obsessive love and a surplus devotion between our characters Mike and Verity. This couple plays a twisted game called The Crave.
This is how this game works…

Verity is approached by a suitor at a bar, they begin to flirt and when things look like they’re going the distance, she tugs her silver eagle necklace and Mike comes to her rescue. V and Mike take each other as their reward afterwards.

Although after Mike’s infidelity, Verity marries another man.
This will utterly shatter him, but Mike can’t help but be convinced that V’s endeavors are part of The Crave, and that the rules of this game have certainly changed because this time, someone has to die.

Throughout the last pages, things take a dark turn and the novel becomes more addictive than ever, with that just-one-more-page effect.

My full thoughts:

The story’s events are told from Mike’s perspective, and we become aware of the damaged childhood he comes from and how his upbringing brutally affects the intriguinly dark manner in which he thinks.

As we leaf through the pages, we begin to acknowledge that the author really pushes boundaries and creates a newer layer of dark and disturbing by challenging the thriller genre in the most original way.

Our Kind of Cruelty is more of an exploration of the crooked human psychology than it is an unraveling of a mystery, and also more about the anticipation of what’s going to happen next in our protagonist Mike’s journey.

This psychological thriller is perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith and gripping thrillers such as Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates.

The book does have a slew of explicit scenes (abuse, affairs, etc), so do proceed with caution.
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I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher. As always, thank you to both. 

I chose this book expecting some kind of demented love story with honestly, multiple points of view. Maybe a new way to get out from the Gone Girl craze of thrillers, and I mean, it gets some bonus points for that. Instead I was hoping for something more along the lines of You, which it kind of was, but ..... honestly so much tamer? 

This book is done in three parts rather than chapters: Pre-Wedding, Post-Wedding, and a court case (not a spoiler, it's clear from the beginning that there is some kind of court case.) Every review I've read of this book talks about this MAJOR TWIST....I don't know where this twist was? 

The acknowledgements of this book change the entire tone of it, which is kind of wonderful, but also should have been woven better throughout the book. Viewing it through a #metoo sort of lens makes it tolerable? I don't know. I really don't know how I feel about this book. If this is supposed to be the case, the woman should be more....tolerable? But also, that's not fair to V? I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK. 

2.5-3 stars.
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This was a twisty thriller with an unreliable narrator that left me guessing until the end.  With both main characters seemingly alternately sympathetic and unsympathetic at times, it was hard to tell which was the villain or if both or neither were.  It was only in the final pages that the awful truth became obvious.  This was an entertaining psychological thriller.
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Oh wow I loved this one! I could not stop reading and every chapter I finished left me with more questions. Was Mike just a sick stalker that couldn't get over Verity ending their relationship? Or was Verity the one pulling all the strings? I loved that the story was told in first person from Mike's POV and the reader is left to wonder how often he misreads situations because of his mental state. It's very difficult to make characters like Mike sympathetic, but the author achieved this and in turn made me very invested in the outcome. The ending was unpredictable and I thought worked very well. Highly recommend this one to fans of twisty thrillers like You.  

Review posted on Amazon and Goodreads
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